A good parenting plan will help you avoid stressful and costly proceedings.
What is a good international parenting plan?
A good international parenting plan meets the following requirements:
- it states the purpose both parents want to achieve with the plan
- it is clear and not multi-interpretable
- it is future-proof
- it indicates how and how often it will be evaluated
- it states how changes to the plan can be made in mutual agreement
- it indicates how ambiguities or conflicts will be dealt with in the future
- it indicates how the child was involved in its creation and how the child will be involved in any changes in the future
- the practicalities have been carefully considered: different vacation schedules, travel time, time differences etc.
- attention has been paid to preserving cultural traditions and customs and learning different langueages
- attention has been paid to maintaining contact with both (extended) families.
How to involve the child
There are several ways in which you can involve the child in the creation of the international parenting plan. It would be best if both parents had the same thoughts on how best to involve the child.
It is important to think ahead of time about the reaction you will get from your child. What if your child doesn’t want to talk about it? What if your child has a strong opinion that differs from your opinion?
There are several ways you can discuss the issues, such as moving, changing schools or the visitation arrangement, with your child. You can make your choice based on your child’s age or development.
- You can talk in general terms about divorce, living in two houses or two countries, visitation arrangements etc, to gauge the reaction
- you can tell what you have decided as parents and wait for the reaction
- you can indicate what you have decided as parents and discuss what advantages and disadvantages that might have for your child
- you can indicate that you would like to discuss with your child (and with the other parent) how the disadvantages can be solved / reduced or compensated
- you can also talk about the decisions that have to be made and ask your child what his or her preference is
- you can indicate that your child may also talk about it with someone else if he/she wants to.
Subjects to address
When you are working on a international parenting plan, these are the subjects to think about:
Residence and visitation
- the main residence
- the visitation arrangement
- agreements on video calls
- dividing vacations, holidays and other special days
- sharing the costs of the visitation arrangement
- accompaniment during travel in the context of the visitation arrangement
- when will the annual schedule for the vacations be established?
- how and when can changes be communicated?
- what happens if the visitation cannot take place?
- how will contact with both families be fostered?
- how will contact be fostered with half/step siblings?
- who makes which (big and small) decisions?
- does consultation have to take place first?
- how is the opinion of the child involved?
- how do the parents communicate about daily things?
- how do the parents communicate about important things?
- how can decisions be made in case of emergency?
- what will be the role of new partners?
- sharing the costs of parenting and care
- possibly: the use of a children’s bank account
- the contribution to the study costs of the children when they
have reached adulthood
If you are considering moving to another country, where a different language is spoken, you should also consider the problems that this new language may cause.
When disussing this, or when writing an international parenting plan, you can discuss the following issues:
- How long will it take, before your child has learned that language?
- What does that mean for the choice of school and activities?
- Is it a good time to introduce an additional language?
- What difference does your child's age make in this?
- What language should you speak at home?
- How can you support the transition?
You can get advice on this from the experts who work for 'On Raising Bilingual Children'.
A mediator guides the process in which you make joint decisions about the future and record these agreements in a parenting plan. Working with a mediator can have advantages over litigation, such as saving time and costs. Another advantage is that mediation is all discussed in the privacy of the mediator’s consultation room. And hopefully, the mediator’s guidance will keep the dispute from derailing.
The mediator can have different tasks:
- making sure that no issues are overlooked
- ensuring that the necessary information is exchanged between the parties
- ensuring that the pace of the consultation is appropriate to the situation/ understanding etc.
- ensuring that the parties understand what the possibilities are, what their rights are and what the consequences may be of what is recorded and informing the parties of the possibility of obtaining external advice in this respect
- prevent the parties from taking ill-considered decisions as a result of, for example: haste, regret, embarrassment, fear, lack of information or an unequal (power) relationship between the parties
- ensure that the intended arrangements are correctly recorded and that the intention of the parties is stated in the record.
Find a lawyer or mediator
An experienced attorney or mediator can help you create a good, future-proof parenting plan. If the other parent does not want to enter into consultation, you can work with your attorney to create a draft parenting plan, with the goal of submitting it to the other parent. If you can show with the draft version that you have taken the interests of the other parent into account, there may still be an opening for consultation.
You can search by country or state for a lawyer or mediator who can help you with this.